June 10, 2003
WASHINGTON--The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is asking for a preliminary and permanent injunction against Kevin Trudeau, Robert Barefoot, Shop America LLC and Deonna Enterprises Inc. from making allegedly false and unsubstantiated claims that Coral Calcium Supreme can treat or cure disease. FTC charges these claims--which include coral calcium can treat or cure cancer, multiple sclerosis and heart disease--go far beyond existing scientific evidence regarding the recognized health benefits of calcium. The complaint also challenges the defendants' claim that a daily serving of Coral Calcium Supreme offers as much bioavailable calcium as two gallons of milk. In addition, FTC is asking for the company's assets to be frozen.
Coral Calcium Supreme is promoted primarily through brochures in addition to 30-minute infomercials featuring Trudeau and Barefoot and airing on networks such as Comedy Central and the Discovery Channel. The product in question is purportedly comprised of marine coral from Okinawa, Japan, and costs $19.95 for a 90-count bottle (a 30-day supply).
As part of this crackdown on unsubstantiated coral calcium claims, FTC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent separate, "strong" warning letters to Web site operators marketing such products as effective treatments or cures for disease. FTC is instructing these sites to remove any false or deceptive claims immediately, and FDA warns recipients the agency may initiate further enforcement action if the violations are not corrected. FTC and FDA found these sites after surfing the Internet for coral calcium products; both will follow up on their letters by revising these sites to see if claims have been deleted or revised.
In a separate action, FTC also charged Trudeau with violating a 1998 federal district court order that prohibited him from making unsubstantiated claims about the benefits, performance or efficacy of any products. FTC reported Trudeau has also made alleged unsubstantiated claims for another product, Biotape, which is promoted to significantly reduce severe pain.
The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) was at the press conference June 10 when FTC's and FDA's actions were announced. The organization handed out materials at the conference, including its May 15 letter to FTC and FDA urging action against coral calcium companies. (More on that story can be found at www.naturalproductsinsider.com/hotnews/35h16145457.html.) CRN also reported Howard Beales, director of FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, stated at the press conference that the agencies do not have a problem with calcium, just the questionable claims being used by many coral calcium distributors. "Calcium is good stuff," Beales said. "It builds strong bones but doesn't help cure cancer."
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